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The Golden Bridge Trade & Investment Awards present an exciting opportunity for UK companies trading or investing in Belgium, and Belgian & Luxembourg companies trading or investing in the UK to showcase their bilateral success to an international jury and celebrate their achievements during an exclusive ceremony hosted by the British Ambassador to Belgium, Alison Rose. Having recently held the jury day for this year’s competition, the finalists will await the Golden Bridge Awards (GBA) evening to find out who this year’s winners are.

Today, we look back at two of our 2016 GBA winners: Orega, a privately owned service office provider, who won the Best New Comer Award to the BeLux market and Bel’Export, a fruit export company whose main products are apples and pears, who secured the Golden Bridge Award for a Belgian company exporting to the UK.

We spoke with Maarten Lauwens, CFO at Bel’Export and Armelle Couasnon, Regional Director at Orega who told us a bit more about how they have used their Golden Bridge Awards success.

What has been the response internally/externally to winning a Golden Bridge Trade & Investment Award?

Maarten told us that the Golden Bridge award created a very positive atmosphere at Bel’Export. “It has provided recognition for our hard work, over many years, and for overcoming the numerous challenges we face in the UK. All our staff are proud to be part of a winning team and our customers are happy to be part of the success story. It has created a very positive drive throughout our company, from the staff and to the client”, said Maarten.

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Why do you think participating in such events is valuable for a company?

Armelle said that participating in the awards has sent the correct message to Orega’s business partners based in Belgium. Furthermore, the award delivers to company’s potential customers a strong message, as they were new comers on the Belgian market.

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How have you used your success in your promotion/communication/marketing strategy?

Bel’Export used specialised media to communicate their success, which gave them greater visibility within their industry.  “We further used our success by using the logo in our communication to our suppliers, customers and other stakeholders. We are also having a promotional video made by one of our partners surrounding the harvesting process of our pears,” said Maarteen.

What is your company working towards in 2017? Are you engaging in new projects?

Orega is focusing on their two main business centres across Belgium and using the awards as a stamp of approval for their Belgian operations. For Bel’Export, “due to the April 2017 frost, the volume of our produce available will be different. However, we are doing all we can to supply our loyal customers fully. The new challenges of 2017 must be prepared for, the likes of Brexit and climate change will provide a new challenge for the company. As a company we are searching for new markets, but also new regions to start our orchards,” says Maarten.

Keep an eye on our upcoming blog posts that will feature the 2017 Golden Bridge Awards finalists!

For more information about the awards, please visit our website or contact us via email.

 

Claire Bury

What does a Deputy Director General do in the European Commission?  My job is to help the Director General run a Directorate General in the European Commission.   A Directorate General, DG for short, is the equivalent of a Ministry in a country.  My DG, DG CONNECT, looks after telecoms, digital and tech policy, online content, ICT research and media and digital culture issues for the Commission.  I work with about 1200 experts based in Brussels and Luxembourg who work on topics ranging from robots to roaming, from start-ups to spectrum policy, from copyright rules to quantum computing. We advise the College of Commissioners on all things digital.  In the case of DG CONNECT, our direct political bosses are Commissioner Gabriel, responsible for the Digital Economy and Society and Vice President Ansip, responsible for the Digital Single Market.

I’m a lawyer by training, and have been in the European Commission since 1992. I’ve worked with many different Commissioners and in different departments dealing with everything from human rights and democratisation to postal services and company law. I joined DG CONNECT In January 2016.

In an average week, I spend a third of my time with colleagues  in the DG, a third of my time working with the Commissioners’ political advisers and in other Commission departments and the rest of my time with colleagues either in the Council, European Parliament and external stakeholders.

I go to a lot of meetings. You cannot escape this! Every week, the DG’s senior management team meets to discuss the issues of the week.  We also meet the Commissioner and the Vice –President and their teams to get political guidance on our work. I also meet my Directors every two weeks to discuss the hot digital topics of the day, staffing and finance issues. I also run DG CONNECT’s diversity and inclusion network which is very rewarding.

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On a good day, I work from 8 to 7, but I’m often checking emails or reading later in the evenings or over weekends.

I love working on digital policy. It’s a very rewarding policy area, where we can make a difference to people’s lives and opportunities.  Whether you work in agriculture, marketing, manufacturing, fashion or in a shop, you will need digital tools to get your job done and will need a fast and affordable internet or mobile connection whether you are at home or travelling abroad.  This is what we are trying to achieve in DG CONNECT.  We are working to deliver the digital single market and ensure that people have access to the digital world and online content wherever they are. We are also trying to ensure that Europe is ahead of the game when it comes to cybersecurity, 5G, High Performance Computing and in digitising industry. For Europe’s authors, journalists, artists, audiovisual professional and other content providers we are pushing to make sure that their creativity is recognised and rewarded fairly.

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Claire Bury – Deputy Director General, DG Connect – October 2017

Shoot4Change and Crowdphotography: creativity, social engagement and collective storytelling

I created S4C (acronym for Shoot4Change, www.shoot4change.eu) in the middle of 2009 just after the earthquake in L’Aquila, central Italy.

Born as a simple blog, it has taken on an international dimension and spirit, aggregating hidden creative minds on social networks, on the street, eventually transforming itself into a real movement.

Which, in the lazy world of photography, is a good news!

S4C is an international nonprofit social photographic volunteer association; a movement of volunteers, of people who want to go down the street to tell stories. Those small, sometimes tiny, stories that are rarely considered profitable by mainstream information. And that is why they are not made known, failing to trigger a process that could have a real impact on social change.

In a nutshell, S4C’s core business is to raise awareness on social issues, those stories that are undervalued, forgotten or ignored, of whom the world, silently, really brings about a positive change, creatively helping the sufferer. Those sparkles of Life even in the most dramatic situations.

S4C volunteers are not only photographers, but also video-makers, journalists, charters, designers, musicians. They all share the concept of “crowdphotography”.

Crowdphotography, a term coined by S4C, is a simple concept: Storytelling can be collective, democratic, and horizontal.

It is an extraordinary “social control” tool with which anyone can say ‘We, the People’ and tell a story, without waiting for others to do it in their place.

It is a quality citizen journalism, which not only refers to “facts” but tells stories. It imposes a reality observation at 0km with open eyes and loaded cameras. Creative visual communication at the service of social awareness.

Which is what Photography should be about, isn’t it?

We believe that by calling for a collective storytelling, or even an individual one, of social issues or just simply day to day Life, putting a camera, a cell phone or any other visual communication tool at work in synergy with the internet and the social media, this can trigger dynamics of real social change. But not a naïve, ideal, utopian change. A small individual change of the Storyteller him/herself, who – after telling (and reading) – a story can no longer say, “I did not know, I did not understand.”

 

The camera, then, becomes a powerful tool for self-reflection but also for analysis and observation of our society. Useful for those who hold it and for those on the other side of the lens.

Those who take a picture acquire awareness of the social reality in which they live, and those whose story is told relinquish their dignity and their own story with an act of trust that strengthens human ties.

In S4C we often say that getting into a story is easy for us. Coming out of it is very difficult.

So, S4C is a hub of stories and storytellers. Right.

 

But it’s also a platform of educational projects aiming to give opportunities to those who are in the outskirts of our societies: we constantly run photography/video making classes for free for those who cannot afford it. Homeless, refugees, asylum seekers…. We look for those amazing “hidden in plain sight” creatives whom are considered invisible.

 

Despite its social agenda, Shoot4Change will remain nonpolitical and totally independent.

 

We are planning to grow the movement, unearthing the next generation of storytellers to tell those untold stories and let people see beyond the headlines and look at real life through the lens.

 

But we need help. Our budget is next to zero (as it always has been, despite the amazing achievement of our volunteers).

 

We do not ask for financial help, nor any other help but a creative, enthusiastic, contagious support of new eyes and minds.

 

Because, as the African motto says “if you want to go fast, go alone. If you want to go far, go together”.

 

www.shoot4change.eu

 

Cecile Wright ''ethnic penalty'' Blog

The persisting ‘ethnic penalty’ encountered by British black and ethnic minority within the employment market has been reported by a plethora of bodies, namely British parliamentary committees (i.e., Department for Work and Pensions), the Equality and Human Rights Commission, leading think thanks (i.e., the Runneymede Trust), trade unions (i.e., Trade Union Council) and so forth. The ‘ethnic penalty’ concerns the barriers to opportunities and discrimination experienced by groups of people due to their race and ethnicity.

Within this context of barriers to black and ethnic minorities and employment opportunities there is the question of the plight of British black and ethnic minority young people. According to a recent report by the UK’s Parliamentary Work and Pensions Committee (1), “There are stark differences in youth unemployment by ethnic group. In the year to June 2016, the unemployment rate among 16-24 year olds was 30% for black people, 26% for people from Bangladeshi or Pakistani ethnic background, and 13% for white people. While unemployment rates fall substantially with age for all ethnicities, the relative positions of the groups largely persist (2017, 11).”

 

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Moreover, within this demographic is the ‘silent catastrophe’ or ‘moral panic’ concerning young black men, particularly of African and Caribbean background. Young black men have higher unemployment rates than all other groups of young people. The discrepancy between unemployment rates for young black men and white men has widened in recent decades. Essentially, young black men experience higher rates of unemployment notwithstanding their favourable educational attainment and regardless of their level of qualification. Moreover, black university graduates are twice as likely to be unemployed as white graduate (2).

The implications of this lamentable waste of “human capital” for the individual, families, communities and society is cataclysmic. In order to address the situation of Britain’s black youth unemployment urgent transformative measures are required which include:

  • Robust data and knowledge gathering on how the intersecting aspects of ‘race’, social class, affects young black people access to employment opportunities.
  • Government intervention which requires all employers and occupational training providers to set targets for the recruitment of vulnerable groups. Notwithstanding that all minority groups are affected by the ‘ethnic penalty’ in some form but for black young people starting out in life it is a major impediment. Thus, it is crucial that the government set the conditions for the necessary change.
  • The need for effective penalties for employers found to be discriminating against black applicants.
  • The need to give greater incentives to employers to recruit, retain and progress young black people’s careers.
  • Monitoring youth programmes and apprenticeship schemes for their achievement and success in obtaining black young people’s participation and permanent job offered on completion.
  • Promoting vocational educational pathways for young people – particularly careers advice and pursuing parity of esteem between vocational and academic qualifications.
  • Setting priorities for youth training and employment: vocational qualifications and developing a diverse workforce.

 

There is a key role for employers to play in reducing the ‘ethnic penalty’ and they could begin this process by examining their recruitment procedures.

 

References:

  1. House of Commons Work and Pensions Committee, Employment opportunities for young people 2017, Ninth Report of Session 2016-7. Published on 29th March 2017.
  2. Wright, C; Standen, P; Patel, T. (2010), Black Youth Matters: Transitions from School to Success, London and New York: Routledge.

 

Professor Cecile Wright, School of Sociology and Social Policy, University of Nottingham UK, Highfield House, University, University Park, Nottingham NG7 2RD. UK

 

Dita Charanzová is a Member of the European Parliament for the Group of the Alliance of Liberals and Democrats for Europe. MEP Charanzová is the Vice-Chair of the Committee on the Internal Market and Consumer Protection. She is also a member of several delegations including; the Delegation to the Cariforum-EU Parliamentary Committee, Delegation for relations with Mercosur and the Delegation to the Euro-Latin American Parliamentary Assembly. 

091 Future of Mobility by Alexander Louvet

I am wondering which day to choose. Some days are more typical than others in my work programme. For instance Mondays, which mark the start of my working week in Brussels. My typical Monday would begin around six o’clock in the morning, when I need to pick out clothes for my two daughters for the entire upcoming week. It is necessary to think about every day of the week and every class, and not to give them too much room for creativity when, for example, they try to convince their Dad to let them wear a summer dress even though it is snowing outside. Everything is set, the piles of clothes are ready, the food I cooked during the weekend is stocked in the freezer and breakfast is on the table. It is time to wake up the girls and, if possible, to finish the morning ritual which implies taking them to school, waving and saying goodbye. And then off starts my regular journey to Brussels by car, which is roughly four hours long. I often get asked if this is not tiring, but I actually enjoy driving and I drive a lot (40 000 km each year). I have my favourite gas stations on the way to Brussels, where the staff greet me as an old acquaintance after three years. It has its charm. But as soon as I leave Strasbourg behind, my car transforms into a mobile office. My colleagues’ phones in Brussels and Prague start to ring as we need to plan for the whole week together. We set the agenda, go over any issues; basically if there is something we can do over the phone, we just do it. This way we do not waste time, which is difficult to find once I arrive to Brussels anyways.

 

A completely different situation occurs, of course, if I go directly to the Brussels or Strasbourg office and do not have to spend four hours in the car.  I practice yoga in the morning, which is something I try not to skip. I pick up something for breakfast and go to the office- I’m usually there around 8 o’clock. I then briefly go over the agenda of the day with my team, which consists of three colleagues and a Czech trainee. I am the Vice-Chair of the IMCO Committee and a substitute of the INTA Committee, so I usually spend my mornings and afternoons at these two committee meetings. The scope of the issues discussed is very wide, however I try to cover those issues in a detailed manner nonetheless. It is not enough to just attend the committee meetings though, I also need to go through documents and related reports, opinions and conclusions from other colleagues. And there are a lot of documents to go through- counting the documents could often be done by the kilo rather than by individual pages. But we are not there yet in my day. I usually go over and study documents thoroughly only in the evening, or rather at night, once the work day calms down.

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Now we are still in the European Parliament, where I have just skipped lunch, which I do not have time for in nine out of ten cases. Regular or irregular meetings with representatives of the Venezuelan opposition or with my Czech female MEP colleagues for example, could be an exception and I really enjoy having lunch with them. When we eat we leave our different political views in the cloakroom with our coats. However I am most happy if I can grab a soup or salad on my way so that I can at least eat something relatively healthy.

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And then the afternoon marathon begins. That implies a series of meetings, formal and informal, which are also part of an MEP’s work. We also often meet with students from different parts of the Czech Republic, which I like to invite to visit the European Parliament both in Brussels and Strasbourg. Another part of my agenda that occupies me and certainly makes part of an MEP’s profile day consists of public appearances at conferences, panels, or round tables, including those which I organise myself. For that, we have to reserve at least a few minutes a day in the office to go over what needs to be done, who to contact or talk to. Previously, for example, I organised a conference on the future of the automotive industry in the EU. We brought together the main stakeholders, including the relevant Commissioner, representatives of the car industry and colleagues from the European Parliament. The conference also included a real Formula-E race car installation right in front of the European Parliament building in Brussels (I do not know which took more energy to organise; this year’s e-Formula installation or last year’s show of a self-driving car that was also in front of the Parliament).

 

Even in the evening I have several items in my agenda. Sometimes it’s a working dinner, sometimes a dinner at the Aspen Institute, where I am a Board member. From time to time, I take part in TV or radio debates for both Czech and foreign media. But if it is possible, I leave the public space at least around eight, and prefer to go home. When I am in Brussels and my agenda allows it, I like to meet my Czech friends working in Brussels that moved here years ago and stayed.  When I’m in Strasbourg, I run home to get back to my family. I like to cook at home, which is one of the activities that helps me relax. My two girls appreciate my sweet pancakes the most, which do not require any great culinary creativity on one hand, but on the other they are able to consume so many that it allows me to relax for a while. And I’m glad I can partly compensate for those days when I am not at home with them. I sometimes have the feeling that my two daughters are gradually becoming hardline Eurosceptics. Whenever I mention anything related to my trips to Brussels, they are very clear with what they think about it.

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The work of an MEP is incredibly fulfilling for me. I value every achievement and I can see how much work it requires. I must admit, however, that at the beginning of my mandate I could not imagine how demanding it would be and how much I would have to travel. My suitcase has become a part of my daily life.

Brexit (Voices) Blog Post

New research by the Council of British Chambers of Commerce in Europe (COBCOE) aims to give European businesses a voice. Key areas of common interest are identified, highlighting the priorities for a Brexit that secures prosperity for Europe.

Business leaders across Europe need to be listened to. They also need clear signals from the EU and UK that will allow them to plan. These are just two of the key messages to come out of COBCOE’s report, “Brexit – the Voices of European Business.”

The research, which involved around 1,000 businesses across the continent shows that uncertainty about the Brexit process and the outcome of negotiations coupled with a potentially short timeframe for change, has already impacted investment and commercial decisions. Managing the risk that this uncertainty presents is not only a drag on productivity, it means that progress on wider policy issues, such as the  development of the digital economy, could be delayed by the focus on Brexit.

Three main themes emerged during the course of the research which are highlighted in the report:

  1. Barriers to trade – maintaining a frictionless European economy;
  2. Uncertainty and disruption in the Brexit process; and
  3. The UK’s role as Europe’s global springboard. It includes many real-life examples of how firms are being impacted.

The research also uncovered concerns about the UK being partitioned off – even among European companies not directly engaged in trade with the UK. This is because many European businesses value the UK for its financial markets, regulatory infrastructure and world-class research and development.

The UK acts as a gateway for international investment and is considered to be a business-friendly force within the EU.

The 1,000 businesses which participated through round table discussions, a survey and poll, perceived a lack of engagement from governments and negotiators.

David Thomas, Executive Chairman of COBCOE pointed out “Europe’s prosperity depends on successful economic relationships between neighbouring businesses and consumers. Disregarding these engines of commerce and wealth creation will make Brexit the cliff face on which such relationships will deteriorate.

“The negotiators’ apparent ‘zero sum’ approach, whereby a loss to one side means a gain for the other, does not reflect reality. The risks and uncertainties that firms across Europe now face undermine European productivity and competitiveness. Agreement on the future framework for economic relations between the EU and agreement on a plan for a transitional period must be made without delay.

COBCOE has presented this report to the UK Government Department for Exiting the European Union and will soon be presenting it to the European Commission Taskforce on Article 50 Negotiations. Charles Brasted, Partner at Hogan Lovells, the international law firm which supports the project, said, “The voices in this report are a unique contribution to the discussion of what kind of post-Brexit Europe is needed and how we should get there. Businesses around Europe and across sectors are clear that Europe needs a strong and connected UK to continue to thrive, because it is central to access to capital, innovation and talent.

“European businesses recognise that they have to work with the process that Brexit has begun and that some change will be needed to give effect to it; but they need, as a matter of urgency, a predictable framework within which to continue to operate, plan, grow and compete during that period of change, and beyond. Agreement on a plan for the transitional period should not be delayed any longer, so that businesses have as much time and information as possible to plan and implement contingencies effectively and can avoid making costly adjustments that prove unnecessary in hindsight.”

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Gain visibility and recognition for excellence in trade and export by applying for the Golden Bridge Trade and Investment Awards.

What is the Golden Bridge Trade and Export Awards?

The 2017 Golden Bridge Trade and Investment Awards present an exciting opportunity for UK companies trading or investing in Belgium, and Belgian and Luxembourgian companies trading or investing in the UK to showcase their bilateral success to an international jury and celebrate their achievements during an exclusive ceremony hosted by the British Ambassador to Belgium, Alison Rose at the British Residence in Brussels, at the heart of Europe.

The Golden Bridge Awards is co-organised by the British Chamber of Commerce in Belgium and the Belgian-Luxembourg Chamber of Commerce in Great Britain.

Fun fact: Belgium was the 7th largest export market to the UK and the UK was the 12th largest export market to Belgium last year.

Why should you apply?

Expand your international network, gain business and political expertise, receive recognition for your achievements.

The Golden Bridge Award opens doors to an international network and the connections businesses need to succeed both at home and abroad. Our international panel of judges from the business community are also affiliated with regional trade and investment bodies as well as embassies from the UK, Belgium and Luxembourg.

Winning a Golden Bridge Award will solidify your credibility on any of the three markets and will reinforce your pivotal role  in the economic relationship between Belgium, the U.K. and Luxembourg.

Previous winners of the Best Newcomer category, Orega, shared that the recognition for their export credentials gave them even greater visibility.

“It has sent the right message to our business partners based in Belgium. The award delivers to our potential customers a strong message, as we were new comers on the market.”
-Orega, Golden Bridge Best Newcomer Winner 2016

The award made a positive impression on their business partners with their improved credibility.

Bel’Export, 2016 winner of the Golden Bridge Award for UK business to Belgium, shared that the Golden Bridge award raised their company profile internationally as well as at home.

“As company you gain visibility, in – and outside the UK. It is a recognition for doing a good job.”

-Bel’Export, Golden Bridge Winner 2016

What will you win?

The winners of the Global Bridge award will receive:

  • Visibility at the awards event itself.
  • A one-year free membership* of the British Chamber. If you qualify under our SME criteria, you receive free  membership already if you are shortlisted as a finalist.
  • Participation in our Golden Bridge Awards Winners’ Day programme in Brussels in January 2018 to celebrate your success.
  • Your company featured in the British Chamber’s annual publications and in articles on our social media channels.

Apply now! The final registration deadline is 30th September!
Do you want to be a Golden Bridge Awards partner? Check the Golden Bridge Trade & Investment Award page on our website for more information or contact Alexandra Trandafir at alexandra@britishchamber.be.

 The Gala Dinner for the Golden Bridge Awards will take place on Wednesday 22nd November 2017 at The British Ambassador’s Residence in Brussels. The applicants will be shortlisted based on their financial performance, their innovation and strategy abroad, and their motivation for entering the awards.

*regular membership

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